“In a Valley of Violence” Review ✦✦✧✧✧

1 March, 2017

Director: Ti West
Screenwriter: Ti West
Director of Photography: Eric Robbins
Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, James Ransone

Synopsis: An ex-soldier passing through a Wild West town on his way to Mexico engages in a fight to the death with the locals after a sour run-in with a gunslinger who takes something precious from him.

In a Valley of Violence Review:

Set to the tune of the 1960s, “In a Valley of Violence” sees an unexpected turn from horror practitioner Ti West who seeks distraction in a new genre, pillaging the framework of Sergio Leone’s finest Spaghetti Westerns without helming the stylistic expertise required to truly make it work. Unlike the more reverent odes to the Western produced by pastiche king Quentin Tarantino, West’s first gunslinger is mostly just an excuse for a dim-witted revenge flick which pokes fun at country bumpkins more than it evaluates the trigger-happy townsfolk behind its mostly unjustified acts of violence.

Void of the characteristic dubbing and sweaty close-ups that we have come to expect from the Italian Western, “In a Valley of Violence” feels more spiritually linked to a John Wayne picture than to a Clint Eastwood classic as the conventions of Hollywood quickly take over, butchering the refinement of Leone’s greatest pictures with scenes revealing names and motives where they were never once necessary. While the miniscule cast of characters vie for attention with varying levels of performative proficiency, West fails to deliver on the promise of his vintage title sequence, divulging key pieces of information with a mouthiness that doesn’t match the rumble and whistle of the soundtrack.

Although composer Jeff Grace undoubtedly doffs his hat to Ennio Morricone in brief moments, “In a Valley of Violence” is mostly preoccupied with selling tension and the music quickly follows suit, allowing dusty stand-offs to play out without the desired soundtrack while the actors struggle to look believable as dishevelled townsfolk engaged in conflict. In spite of Taissa Farmiga’s unbearably squawky performance as the underage love interest to Ethan Hawke’s rugged drifter, James Ransone is perhaps the most disappointing inclusion in the line-up as he attempts a Lee Van Cleef but finds himself in a role written for a coward who hides behind furfelt and whiskers and can easily be knocked out with a punch. This isn’t pastiche, it’s sheer goofiness.


Review Date
In a Valley of Violence